The Dead Girls' Dance (Morganville Vampires) by Rachel Caine

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The Dead Girls' Dance (Morganville Vampires) by Rachel Caine

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Category: Teens
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: The second in this lengthy series of teens in peril series shows no let-down at all from the thrust of the first, and still marks this series as a must-buy.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: April 2008
Publisher: Allison and Busby
ISBN: 978-0749079864

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So, where did we get to? The first book in this series of teens-in-a-town-full-of-vampires novels ended with some form of assistance being offered our heroes and heroines, which turned out to be quite a tragic turn of events. Partly as a result this second title can branch out a little more freely into the backgrounds of two of the household, and their families - namely Shane's dark angel of a father, and Eve's younger brother, with his horrific criminal record. It would take too long, and spoil too much, however, for me to detail exactly how they are to be woven into the web of peril that inflicts the inhabitants of the Glass House.

Everything I enjoyed so much in the first book is back, with if anything the whole being ramped up a notch. There are more characters - all introduced nicely, with the author's firm grip on who's who and why, more police, more goodies and baddies - and most interestingly more shady grey areas between those. There is more warming teen romance between Claire and Shane, when there is room for it in among all the twists and turns.

There is a similar pattern evident for those fresh from reading volume one. It is only almost halfway before the real crux of the story comes into focus, but this is not because the opening hours are wasted on exposition, mood or scene-setting. In the hands of Rachel Caine they become just as entertaining, before she lets us stumble on the turning point of the tale. It's a technique that means I can go nowhere when it comes to defining the plot here - not only might I spoil book one for those yet to finish it, but because any sensible plot recap would cover too many pages.

And here, at that turning point again, there is a surprise. To give nothing away, the bonus point-of-view coda served to remind me what I thought we were going to get, and instead pointed to something meaty for book three, which I am already itching to open.

If anything, I can only worry about this series. This book increases everything - the energy, the darkness, the peril for Claire and friends (but only ever realistically) - that come books seven, eight and nine I fear for how much it will have descended into Grand Guignol parody.

It's refreshing to see a series aiming for so much (nine books, to repeat) and being so successful. The characterisation of Claire is spot on for the target audience, and the lore of the vampires sharing Morganville with her - and controlling so much of it - still so evidently adding to established urban fantasy fiction. I should note that this volume does get a little dark and forboding, and I can see some scenes not being suitable for the more impressionable under-twelves.

For the likes of me, however, this is a five star effort, in that it just adds to an already impressive opening to the series. Take off probably more than half a star for those starting here, and add a slap to the wrist that you haven't jumped on this energetic, highly-charged and ever-impressive bandwagon yet.

I must once again thank Allison and Busby for bringing this series to the British shores - and my attention with my review copy.

For a different look at a character similar to Claire, you might be as impressed with Skim by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki (Illustrator) as we were. If you want to watch a shorter series develop, you can do worse than starting with The Summoning (Darkest Powers 1) by Kelley Armstrong.

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